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What says..

Small, but, in many ways perfectly formed. The whole place feels loved and cared for, no tatty areas to be seen. Attention to detail is important here – they care, and it shows. According to the children, ‘the teachers here find really fun ways to drill subjects into your head.’ We might struggle a little with the word ‘drill’ but they are all smiles as they say it and we know what they mean. The hillside location means there are limitations – no car park or playing fields on site. However, lose yourself in the mind of a child just for a moment and…

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What the school says...

At Moorfield we achieve the rare balance between academic rigour and creating a fun, friendly and caring environment where boys and girls can thrive. Pupils are nurtured as individuals and develop the personal confidence to be successful. All pupils proceed to their first choice of senior school.
Set at the foot of Ilkley moor, we make good use of our beautiful location whilst also having the benefit of being an easy walk from the centre of town.
Outstanding teaching from a vibrant and committed staff goes hand in hand with a broad and rich curriculum including exceptional music, plenty of sport, cookery and outdoor learning.
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What the parents say...

As our daughter now embarks on her final months at Moorfield, we continue to be thrilled with the outstanding level of support received from the teachers and we will all miss the cosy feel that comes from the encompassing Moorfield arms. Having already had a daughter go through Moorfield and move onto the local state grammar school, we can see that confidence, kindness and a need to try extremely hard are the qualities a Moorfield child takes away from this school.

Commented on 19th Jan 2015

In getting to the point, this is a very special school for us and our seven year old (now eight) daughter. From the beginning, our experience at Moorfield via an introduction was one of a positive, enthusiastic, professional, welcoming and caring school. With attendence for just over a term and a half, we have seen our daughter blossom in confidence, dedication and enthusiasm. She is now excited to do things that she barely would attempt before, and she has developed friends, character and a spirit associated with the school that will leave a permenant fond memory of the school. We love to hear about the school program, rituals and processes that seemed to have been refined over many years to create a perfect balance of progress, opportunity, discipline and respect for each other, almost eliminating the opportunity for misbehaviour but without too much rigidity. There appears to be a 'magic' element that if could be put in a bottle, I would suggest sell very well. We have found our daughter progress in school academic disciplines in line with our reasonably high expectations, and feel a real sense of her wanting to be involved in other aspects of the school activities. I think if there was more to be involved in, she would do as she genuinely sees school as a safe place to try things out and prosper. We have been very impressed by how easy the staff are to talk to, particulally the Headmistress, who is approachable, knowledgable and without a doubt a figure head of the school that sets the tone for conduct and character. I would highly recommend Moorfield as a school, and thank the school, the staff and the other children for making it a special place for our daughter to learn, grow and be happy.

Commented on 6th Nov 2012

Our two children continue to thrive in the encompassing arms of Moorfield. Since joining in 2007 from a local state primary, we have been thrilled with the progress our daughters have made. It is a joy to see them running into school (and reluctant to leave!). The whole Moorfield experience needs to tried to be believed. A wide range of clubs are on offer for those who wish to participate and the provision of musical support and encouragement is outstanding. We could not be happier with Moorfield and are safe in the knowledge that our children have had the best possible start.

Commented on 21st Feb 2012

A small school with a lovely feel and atmosphere to educate your children. Staff strive to ensure that each child is achieving their potential and go that extra mile to help them. All staff are approachable and are accessible to answer any questions that you may have. From the basics of Maths and English, through to the numerous and varied clubs that can be joined, all pupils are encouraged to participate. I believe that all Moorfield pupils find their personal strengths. In my experience, the children (and Parents!) enjoy their time at Moorfield, and happily return after school holidays. They grow to become confident, polite and extremely hard working – great skills to carry forward to their secondary schools and beyond.

Commented on 18th Nov 2011

We have educated three girls at Moorfield since 1998 and are coming to the end of our time at this wonderful school. Our two elder daughters now at secondary school have excelled in a very academic environment since leaving Moorfield and we are convinced it was the confidence and strength that Moorfield gave them that has enabled them to flourish. Our youngest absolutely adores the school and commented that it is like one big happy family -such an accolade is hard to put down in writing but comes from the heart and this is what sets Moorfield apart from the rest. Yes it has excellent teaching, incredible music and drama and wonderful sporting opportunities and quite simply the best science teaching I have ever come across and yes the standard the girls reach in French is outstanding as it is in Maths and their English skills as they reach the top of the school blow your mind away . The quality of the artwork and DT is amazing and the range of clubs exceptional but all of this is nothing compared to the heart that beats inside Moorfield steadily and caringly and this is what makes Moorfield a truly great school and one that we shall miss greatly.

Commented on 15th Nov 2011

We moved our daughter from a local state school as she was suffering with poor self esteem and a lack of confidence. The change in her since she has been at Moorfield has been fantastic. She is now far more willing to have a go at things she would never have tried before and the 'can do' attitude of the school is beginning to rub off on her. The whole atmosphere of the school is friendly and it always has such a 'buzz' about it. The children seem incredibly happy and are always polite (I've never heard so many pleases and thank-yous) and the staff are very approachable. The amount of sport, music and drama has really encouraged her and helped to boost her confidence - and this is not just in out of school clubs, it seems to be part of the school day in a way that the previous school could never manage. The quality of music on offer in particular is very impressive (my school orchestra was never that good) and watching the end of year musical you seem to forget that these are only 10 and 11 year olds! We couldn't be happier with our choice of school and only wish we had transferred our daughter sooner.

Commented on 9th Oct 2011

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What The Good Schools Guide says

Headmistress

Since 2008, Mrs Jessica Crossley BEd. Originally from South Africa, she studied at Stellenbosch University, specialising in primary teaching and music. Previously a teacher at Moorfield, so knows the school well.

A breath of fresh air, she is warm, hugely enthusiastic and ambitious for her school and pupils. Seems to have won over hearts and minds with her ‘I can achieve anything’ approach to life and learning. Nurture and academic rigour both sit very comfortably with her. ‘It takes a long time to grow a child,’ she says. Delightfully unstuffy whilst exuding both intelligence and charm, she walks her talk more convincingly than many and is a real strength of the school.

Married with three grown-up children, she spends her weekends catching up with family and walking her elderly labrador on Ilkley Moor. Lists ‘good coffee and singing’ as some of life’s other pleasures.

Entrance

Twenty children per year group. Most join from nursery and there’s a steady dribble into classes most years if space allows. Girl-heavy throughout, but numbers of boys are increasing each year as the youngest work their way through the school.

Children of all abilities accepted, on the premise that the needs of current pupils are not compromised in any way; ability/needs are assessed informally on a taster day. Some year groups are full (numbers are on the up) but space in other years so do check. Annual open day, but school is open to visitors most days by appointment.

Exit

Most popular destinations are Ilkley Grammar and Harrogate Ladies, also Skipton Girls' High and Bradford Grammar. All are sought-after schools and competition is rife, so parents are well advised and children well prepared, helping to ease the transition into their first choice schools. Seven scholarships in 2017.

Our view

Small, but, in many ways perfectly formed. Housed in Wharfedale Lodge, an imposing Yorkshire stone villa with newer additions, including a purpose-built nursery and hall/gym. Classrooms are bright, sunny and spacious, with plenty of impressive work on display. The whole place feels loved and cared for, no tatty areas to be seen. Attention to detail is important here – they care, and it shows.

Little passing traffic as the school sits in a prime residential street, nestled in the lea of Ilkley Moor. You have to go out of your way to find it (other schools are more visible and Moorfield wrestles with that). The hillside location means there are limitations – no car park or playing fields on site. However, lose yourself in the mind of a child just for a moment and then weigh that up against spacious grounds fashioned by nature with craggy woods, shady dells, dens and a stream – something other schools attempt to recreate by paying a fortune to landscape gardeners.

The school uses every inch of the available space – safe playground with hard and soft areas, a hard court and new Astro for ball games; forest school happens for real here and the grounds are child heaven, with so much to explore.

Small classes, learning support as required. French from nursery, German from year 3 and a smattering of Russian in year 6; subject specialist teaching at the top of the school. You won’t find the school in newspapers’ top school lists simply because, like 75 per cent of UK prep schools, they don’t do Sats. No lack of rigour though – they take preparation for senior school seriously and will happily talk to you about their assessment criteria.

According to the children, ‘the teachers here find really fun ways to drill subjects into your head.’ We might struggle a little with the word ‘drill’ but they are all smiles as they say it and we know what they mean. Parents say the head is good at finding ‘young, inspiring teachers’ who ‘put soul into the place.’ Teachers clearly have energy too – they end the day with a seven-minute workout with the head (‘don’t tell the children, they may want to watch’). Plenty of IT throughout; staff know their way around interactive whiteboards and use them well. Old school skills such as cooking, masterfully led by the former head of Bettys Cookery School.

Well-stocked library; they are big on reading here, with special rosettes awarded for reading the classics (with or without the help of parents) – and it doesn’t count if you just watched the DVD. Specialist music rooms in the refurbished basement. All sing and the majority play an instrument, many more than one.

School makes use of good local facilities for team sports and swimming, as well as running on the moor and around the local tarn. Add to that a spelling bee and a wealth of musical opportunities and there are no excuses for not sleeping well at night. Achieving a rare third green flag as an eco school was much celebrated; there is a vitality here that is both healthy and engaging.

There’s a holiday club during the hols – hugely popular with working parents and ladies-who-lunch. ‘It’s a lifesaver,’ say parents, and no complaints from the children, who seem to have a wonderfully busy time. Plenty of ‘specials’ – climate week, poetry, art, music and drama competitions, fundraising for local charities and more besides. Year 6 pupils end their time at the school with a winter banquet – dress code is ‘more dash than cash’ so that it doesn’t become a fashion show. Otherwise it’s a candlelit dinner, with formal invitations (delightfully penned thank you letters follow), the best china and silverware, all at the head’s home. It’s one of the most eagerly awaited events of the year, and not just for the grand finale that is the chocolate fountain.

Pupils look cheery in practical red and green uniforms, blazers and jumpers for most, sweatshirts for little ones. The time-honoured school hats and caps remain at parents’ insistence (admittedly cute around town), but it’s more to do with sentimental value than denying the myth that is Ilkley Moor bar t’at (translation available if required). These are busy children. Plenty of sport on and off site, with competitive matches against local schools. ‘I expect you to win,’ says the head. She’s only half-joking, but apparently ‘it’s still good for your personal development if you lose,’ say the pupils. Crikey.

Food is ‘great,’ say the pupils, notably Mrs Glover’s legendary chocolate square, which (they are quick to add) is balanced by a healthy fruit feast on other days. Food is locally sourced and cooked in-house; parents receive menu options on weekly newsletters.

Parents treasure the ‘family environment’ and appreciate the accommodating flexibility. Not essential to pre-book before and after-school care. Just a phone call needed – invaluable when you are stuck in traffic. Usual to see older girls looking after the little ones at playtime – it’s a small school and they know (and will play with) everyone, regardless of age. New pupils are made welcome throughout and parents meet and greet others with coffee and croissant mornings.

The amusingly titled ‘boy time’ happens on Friday afternoon when the boys head off for rugby, football, cricket or golf. Boys are still very much in the minority but they are well catered for and are a happy and much-valued part of the school. Pupils are unfailingly polite and discipline is obvious, without childlike enthusiasm being suppressed. No mobile phones and parents happy with that – ‘we want them to be children.’

Ilkley is a small market town with, probably, too many schools as well as an abundance of teashops and antique dealers, yet all are thriving and appear recession-proof. Serious money here and they are a well-heeled bunch, though admittedly the heels are more Hunter (possibly Aigle) than Louboutin. But somehow the locals are all the more likeable for that. The upshot is plenty of choice for your children and a great lifestyle for parents who may well choose to work in Leeds but live here. ‘You pays your money (or not) and you takes your choice,’ as they say around here, but make sure you don’t miss Moorfield when you are doing the rounds.

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